Traditionally Titbits has been published just ahead of the weekend. I suspect for many weekdays and weekend are merging. Still plenty to talk about and to remain watchful.
This week Trump completed the rollback of emissions legislation for automobiles in the USA. A retrograde step that American carmakers will live to regret (many were not in favour anyway)
Solarcentury sheds UK home PV business, focuses overseas
Clean energy stalwart Solarcentury has quit the UK domestic PV market, selling its residential PV installations arm to Sweden’s leading installer Svea Solar for an undisclosed sum.
Founded in 1998, Solarcentury now books 90 per cent of revenue outside the UK. The firm reported £14.4 million profits in the year to March 2019. It claims a pipeline of some 5GW across Europe, Africa and Latin America.
CEO Frans van den Huevel said expansion of Solarcentury’s international activities meant now was the right time to hand over its UK domestic activities.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but furniture giant IKEA has been a key player in sealing the deal. Svea installs for IKEA in its native market. The agreement transfers to Svea the British firm’s partnership interests with Ingka Group, the retailer’s international management entity.
Solarcentury became IKEA’s home installation partner in 2015, when the retail giant first experimented with home solar sales via UK stores. (theenergyst)
E.On issues €750M green bond
E.On has successfully issued a €750 million green bond with a tenor of 5.5 years.
The company said that despite the significant market disruptions caused by Covid 19, it secured favourable interest terms: the bonds have a coupon of 1%. “The comparatively favourable terms stem from significant investor demand leading to eight-times oversubscribed orderbooks,” it said.
The transaction was executed by an international bank consortium. Goldman Sachs International, ING and UniCredit served as active bookrunners. (newpower)
Gravitricity looks at South African mines for energy storage
UK tech start-up Gravitricity has unveiled plans to explore the energy storage potential of South Africa’s former mine shafts, thanks to a £300,000 funding boost from government agency Innovate UK.
The company’s energy storage technology works by raising multiple heavy weights, weighing up to 21,000 tonnes in total, in a deep shaft and releasing them again to power a generator when the energy is required.
It said its system was ideally suited to South Africa where numerous mine shafts are situated, with some as deep as 3km, adding that it could help balance the grid in a country currently facing an “energy crisis” that has resulted in frequent blackouts. (businessgreen)
Scottish firms receive £1m grant to reduce cost of wave power
A £1 million grant has been awarded to firms developing applications to bring down the cost of wave power.
Two teams led by Arup and Tension Technology International will share the grant by Wave Energy Scotland (WES) to demonstrate the commercial viability of their applications.
The two teams aim to work with supply chain partners and provide open source design tools for use by wave energy developers. (energylivenews)
REA and UK EVSE merge
UK EVSE, which was established in 2013, will merge with the REA and join the group’s EV members forum that was set up in 2017. The two groups believe that the merger will help unify the industry by delivering a body that is better resourced and can integrate both the burgeoning EV charging sector and the renewables sector in the UK. (edie)
EO Charging uses lockdown to teach kids about EV’s
EO Charging, one of the UK’s premier EV charging infrastructure companies, has come up with a creative way to engage with their clients whilst they are stuck at home with the kids. They have created the EO Academy (HERE) a page on the company’s website that encourages children to learn about renewable energy, electric cars and, of course, charging. There are a series of games on the site and tips for parents as to how to keep the wee ones entertained whilst spending all holidays indoors.
EV of the week
In a week when nobody is driving anywhere much, we feature a car that few readers coupld probably afford to drive anywhere
Hispano Suiza Carmen Boulogne Is A Tribute To Racing Heritage
After lying dormant for 80 years the grand old name Hispano Suiza was reborn to adorn a range of high end EV’s. The car to relaunch the brand was called the Carmen, which is now followed by this race bred Carmen Boulogne, which definitely means to catch the eye (and wallet)
The new Hispano Suiza’s electric motors are good for a tick more than 1100HP. That translates to a top speed of 180mph, while the sprint to 60 mph happens in less than 2.6 seconds.
To emphasis its race ambitions the Carmen Boulogne’s suspension system was also developed with competition in mind by QEV Technologies — which may be a familiar name to Formula E fans.
The final bit, though, is both the most visible and the most compelling. The exposed, raw carbon fibre bodywork on the reborn Hispano Suiza is not just a reminder of the company’s commitment to lightweight construction, it’s an example of the company’s raw engineering talent. This takes confidence, any mistake you make in laying the carbon fibre down for something like this will show. And, with the car’s €1.5 million price tag (est.), and imperfection is bound to be seen. (cleantechnica)
H&M reaches clothing take-back target early
The H&M Group collected more than 29,000 tonnes of used clothing though its in-store network of take-back points last year, surpassing its 2020 goal to collect at least 25,000 tonnes a year ahead of schedule.
This represents a 40% year-on-year increase in clothing taken back. The milestone, revealed in the high-street fashion giant’s latest Sustainability Performance Report, comes four years after the firm first began collecting garments. The service was first introduced in selected H&M stores, before being rolled out across the brand and, more recently, across several of the Group’s other brands such as ARKET.
Once collected at in-store donation banks, around 50-60% of the clothing deposited is reused – either sold via resale platforms or given to charity partners for resale.
The majority of the remainder is downcycled into things like insulation or, where recycling solutions exist, recycled into new textile fibres. Mechanical and chemical recycling processes for textiles are currently available at scale for 100% cotton or polyester, but for textile blends, which account for the vast majority of fashion items sold globally each year, solutions have not yet been commercialised and scaled up. To that end, H&M’s charitable arm, H&M Foundation, is investing in a hydrothermal recycling process for textile blends. (edie)
VW demonstrates why it backs pure EV vs fuel cell
This neat infographic shows why, according to recent research by Horvath & Partners a battery electric car has a tank-to-wheel energy efficiency of 70-90% whilst a fuel cell car’s efficiency is 25-30%. (greencarreports)
EU carbon market emissions fell 8.7 per cent in 2019
Carbon emissions regulated under the European Union’s emissions trading systems (ETS) fell by 8.7 per cent last year, marking the carbon market’s largest annual CO2 decline in a decade, according to preliminary analysis by Refinitiv Carbon.
The analyst firm looked at the latest verified ETS emissions data published by the European Commission yesterday, which it said indicated carbon emissions from Europe’s airlines and large scale power, heat, and industrial facilities in 2019 altogether fell by their largest level since 2009.
The ETS covers the largest emitters in Europe and therefore mostly comprises energy generators, and the data suggests the overall drop in emissions within the cap-and-trade scheme last year was largely driven by the continuing shift away from coal in the power sector. (businessgreen)
Lockdown Thought of the Week
This new section, added for while we endure the crisis, is an attempt to link thoughts on Covid-19 and the enviromental or energy transition agenda. This week’s is from a piece by Dr Ben Caldecott of the Smith School of Enterprise at Oxford University
Covid-19 bailouts, then what?
Dr Ben Caldecott argues the clamour for green strings to be attached to bailout packages could be misguided – could government take a long term stake in struggling companies instead and demand bolder climate strategies as a shareholder?
There are growing clamours to attach all manner of terms and conditions to Covid-19 induced government bailout packages for companies across different industries. Adding covenants for this, that, and the other and doing this on the fly will be hard for stretched finance ministries. It could also result in overly complicated bailouts with unintended consequences.
We need to disentangle the steps that must be taken in an immediate crisis with longer term questions about how governments should use new stakes in companies over time. We are in this for the long-haul and should plan accordingly. For example, RBS was bailed out in October 2008 and the UK government is still the majority shareholder.
The only conditions that matter right now are those that ensure taxpayers don’t get ripped off, while also ensuring that bailed out companies are not so indebted that it will be impossible for them to repay bailouts, restructure, and renew.
It is easy to envisage a situation where a large number of bailed out companies cannot repay their debts or restructure in the medium term. There will then be many more companies that are minority and majority government owned and these will be in both public and private markets.
This is when government needs to manage stakes in companies in a way that seeks to actively achieve broader societal objectives, as well as profitable exits from successfully restructured companies.
A key principle should be government being an active owner and doing so in a way that is consistent with government policy.
Consistency with UK government policy means consistency with the Climate Change Act (2008) and our new net zero emissions target (2019), as well as the 25 Year Environment Plan (2018) and new ambitious plans to decarbonise transport. Translating these and other very ambitious policies into active ownership in practice will become an important implementation challenge for government.
Here government can learn a lot from large institutional investors and adopt frameworks already being implemented by leading UK pension funds, such as the Brunel Pension Partnership, and some of the world’s largest investors, such as the Norwegian Global Pension Fund and Legal & General Investment Management. (businessgreen)
Focus on: European Power Purchase Agreements (PPA’s)
Renewable PPA’s surge more than 25% in Europe
That is a headline conclusion of the latest research and advice paper from the RE-Source Platform, a consortium consisting of The Climate Group’s RE100 initiative and its member corporates; WindEurope, SolarPower Europe; CDP and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).
According to the report, wind accounted for 85% of the off-site PPA deals made in 2019 by value. Investment in such deals was particularly pronounced in Sweden, Norway and here in the UK.
The UK Government notably introduced its offshore wind sector deal last year, jointly committing with key industry players boost annual exports fivefold by 2030, to reach £2.6bn.
According to the RE-Source Platform’s findings, policymakers and businesses in most European nations are, like the UK, prioritising offshore renewable generation technologies, as they can typically be made larger than onshore arrays.
Solar, however, still had a major role to play, the report concludes, accounting for almost 30% of clean PPA deals made last year in Europe by volume. In comparison, solar accounted for less than 6% of all clean PPA deals made in Europe by volume in 2018.
The three largest individual European solar deals made in 2019 were of 199MW by Amazon in Spain; 160MW by Google in Demnark and 143MW in France by rail operator SNCF. (edie)
Covid-19 and the European PPA market
The Covid-19 pandemic might end up having a limited impact on the European market for power purchase agreements, according to Jason Tundermann, vice president of business development at US-based trading adviser LevelTen Energy.
“When it comes to corporate renewable procurement, fortunately, temporary economic shocks are likely to be less important than long-term energy price trends,” Tundermann told pv magazine. “On the LevelTen Marketplace, we run 20,000 independent Monte Carlo simulation trials on more than 750 PPA offers every day, so our clients have a complete picture of how a PPA could perform over the life of the contract.”
Tundermann said the price drops of the past month are within the range of values that LevelTen Energy’s risk analysis approach would produce. Although energy demand and prices have fallen dramatically, the impact on renewable energy projects is not yet dire, as the vast majority of developers have long-term contracts in place to guarantee a price for the energy they produce.
He has not detected a dramatic decline in the present net value of long-term PPA offers, which should provide comfort to the many corporate buyers who have decided to proceed with their procurement strategies. (pv-magazine)
Eco – Recyclable Office Building
Truly circular office
Fully circular office can be sustainably dismounted and rebuilt in weeks
In its latest example of circular construction, Dutch architecture firm cepezed has completed Building D(emountable), a modern structure that can be fully dismounted and is currently located in the heart of Delft. Designed as a building kit of prefabricated parts, the office raises the bar for sustainable architecture in the Netherlands, which aims to make all construction activities fully circular by 2050. (inhabitat)
Oceans can be restored to former glory within 30 years, say scientists
The glory of the world’s oceans could be restored within a generation, according to a major new scientific review. It reports rebounding sea life, from humpback whales off Australia to elephant seals in the US and green turtles in Japan.
Through rampant overfishing, pollution and coastal destruction, humanity has inflicted severe damage on the oceans and its inhabitants for centuries. But conservation successes, while still isolated, demonstrate the remarkable resilience of the seas.
The scientists say there is now the knowledge to create an ocean renaissance for wildlife by 2050 and with it bolster the services that the world’s people rely on, from food to coastal protection to climate stability. The measures needed, including protecting large swathes of ocean, sustainable fishing and pollution controls, would cost billions of dollars a year, the scientists say, but would bring benefits 10 times as high. (guardian)
IEA believes in biogas
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the world’s biogas and biomethane resources could provide 20% of global gas demand and help curb greenhouse gas emissions.
A new report published by the IEA revealed that organic waste ‘holds huge untapped potential to provide clean energy around the world’ along with encouraging a circular economy.
The agency said that biogas could become a local source of power and heat for communities and could also be used as a clean cooking fuel for households.
IEA’s Executive Director Dr Fatih Birol, said: “Biogas and biomethane can play major roles in a sustainable energy future, but for the moment we’re missing out on this opportunity to cut waste and cut emissions. A push from governments can give biogas and biomethane the necessary momentum, with benefits across energy, transport, agriculture and the environment.”
Asia-Pacific, North and South America, Europe and Africa have been identified as regions with the ‘largest opportunities’. According to the report, the availability of sustainable feedstocks for these purposes is set to grow by 40% by 2040. (futurenetzero)
How energy-efficient LED bulbs lit up India in just five years
In order to achieve global climate goals, a key question must be answered: how can developing countries rapidly scale-up emerging energy-efficient technologies while also advancing their technological capabilities?
A new research paper, published in the journal Energy Research & Social Science investigates this question through an analysis of the unprecedented expansion of India’s light emitting diode (LED) bulb market.
India’s LED lighting market grew 130-fold within five years, skyrocketing from annual sales of 5m bulbs per year in 2014 to about 670m in 2018. This resulted in 30 terawatt hours (TWh) of annual energy savings – roughly enough to power 28m average Indian households or the whole of Denmark for a year.
The price of an LED bulb in India also dropped dramatically, from 400 Indian rupees (around £4.50) in 2014 to about 70 rupees (£0.78) just five years later.
Over the same period, the number of LEDs in India has increased rapidly. As the chart below illustrates, the market share for LEDs (yellow line) grew from 0.3% to 46%, with sales surpassing those of incandescent (blue), CFL (orange) and tubelight (green) lamps in 2018. (carbonbrief)
This is from a guest post by Dr Radhika Khosla (Smith Institute) Dr Ajinkya Shrish Kamat (MIT) Prof Venkatesh Narayanamurti (Harvard) follow the link to read the whole article
Nonprofit plants 80,000 trees in Kenya and Rwanda
The name of global environmental charity One Tree Planted seems excessively modest now, as they’ve just finished planting 80,000 trees in Africa. Rwanda got 60,000 new trees, and Kenya got 20,000.
In Rwanda, One Tree Planted aimed to boost local farmers’ harvests and incomes by planting coffee seedlings in the Kayonza and Gakenke districts. One Tree partnered with Kula Project to train local farmers in agronomy, technical skills and sustainable practices. Once the coffee Arabica seedlings mature, they should provide a sustainable income for up to three decades. This program fits in with a country-led effort to restore 100 million hectares of land in Africa by 2030.
One Tree’s work in Kenya aimed to restore part of the Kijabe Forest, which suffers from overgrazing, fires and illegal harvesting. Trees native to this highland mosaic forest, also called Afro-alpine forest, include the African olive and the East African pencil-cedar. Charcoal burning and logging have damaged the forest, eroding soil and frightening people with impending mudslides.
This work in Kenya is part of an ongoing project which uses enrichment planting, avoided deforestation and assisted natural regeneration. Enrichment planting means introducing valuable species to degraded forests while retaining existing valuable species and is commonly used in forest management. (inhabitat)
Ammonia under test as alternative fuel for gas engines
Wärtsilä has begun combustion trials using ammonia fuel. The aim is to explore the potential to use ammonia instead.
In the test, ammonia was first injected into a combustion research unit to investigate its properties. The tests will be continued on dual-fuel and spark-ignited gas engines. These will be followed by field tests in collaboration with ship owners from 2022, and potentially also with energy customers in the future.
Ammonia may offer a carbon-free fuel option. Although it is derived mainly from fossil sources today, in the future ammonia’s greenhouse gas footprint can be nearly eliminated if it is produced using electricity from renewable sources.
However ammonia has a number of properties that have to be managed. It ignites and burns poorly compared to other fuels and is toxic and corrosive, making safe handling and storage important. Burning ammonia could also lead to higher NOx emissions unless controlled either by aftertreatment or by optimising the combustion process.
Wärtsilä says it is investigating several future fuels, including synthetic methane, ammonia, hydrogen and methanol, because internal combustion engines can be adapted for different fuels. Dual-fuel or spark-ignited engines can burn liquified natural gas – from fossil, biomass or synthetic sources – while diesel engines can run on liquid biofuels, biodiesel or e-diesel. (newpower)